Stocks Battered As "Fear Gauge" Breaks Out

Stocks are still reeling from Russia's full-scale attack on Ukraine, but have come off their session lows from the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIis down roughly 600 points midday -- but traded more than 800 points in the red earlier -- while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) flip flops around positive territory. Both the blue-chip index and the Nasdaq are looking to avoid their sixth-straight loss. Still, in correction territory, the S&P 500 Index (SPXwas last seen firmly lower.  

Meanwhile, Wall Street's "fear gauge," the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), is surging to its highest level in a month and heading toward its highest close since January 2021. Global benchmark Brent crude surpassed the psychologically-significant $100 mark for the first time since 2014 last night and is holding above it today, while West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI) also jumped above $100 before pulling back. 

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One of the many utility stocks seeing unusual options volume today, PG&E Corp (NYSE: PCG) has seen 52,000 calls across the tape so far -- 14 times the intraday average. Most of this activity can be attributed to the March 11 and 12 calls, with new positions being bought to open at the former. At last glance, PCG was down 0.1% at $10.84. 

Soaring near the top of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, South Jersey Industries Inc (NYSE: SJIis up 41.5% at $33.23, after the company agreed to be acquired by Infrastructure Investments Fund. Plus, the utility name announced a strong fourth-quarter report. Earlier scoring a two-year high of $33.46, SJI is now up 26.9% year-to-date. 

Meanwhile, Bandwidth Inc (Nasdaq: BANDis plummeting, down 26% at $34.39 -- earlier hitting a three-year low of $33.11 -- after the telecommunication company's dismal forecast. No fewer than five analysts chimed in with price-target cuts, including Piper Sandler to $51 from $102. Year-over-year, BAND is down 79.9%, with consistent pressure from its descending 40-day moving average.

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Disclaimer: Schaeffer's Investment Research ("SIR" or "we" or "us") is not registered as an investment adviser. SIR relies upon the "publishers' ...

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